Thoughts on the Wii
Consoles are different from how they used to be. Actually that’s now wholly true, saying people view consoles differently from how they used to, is closer to the mark. What people are these? The non-gamers, the mums who complain about how dark your room is, the wives who ask “when are you coming to bed?” and the girlfriends whose glazed over eyes confirm that only you and your ‘friends’ are interested in recollections of COD skirmishes. Now to generalise non-gamers to women is unfair but in my experience, 9 and ½ times out of 10, gamers are men. Or so I thought. I witnessed what can only be described as something wonderful, one Christmas, a mother opening a gift, three big blue letters on the box, it said… W-i-i. It all changed then, my perception of consoles, my mother’s perception of consoles, perception of perception, it was making no sense and my head was spinning but I knew life would never be the same. Now that’s a little dramatic but it gets my point across. My mum picked up a console and liked it, didn’t tut at the noise didn’t moan about “square eyes” or other such bizarre sayings, she just picked it up put it on and played and still does to this day. Wonderful.
Where had this woman come from? She was the generalisation of parents who saw consoles as antisocial, dirty and a thing that makes men lazy and boys to forget their homework. Who was this person? Have you ever wondered why the original Xbox 360 and Wii were white? It’s a strategy, mind games a way in which to convince those who see consoles as the destroyers of their children and partners souls that gone are the dark days of closed curtains and shut doors with shouts of “I’m not hungry!” and “Ten more minutes!” being the only communication for days. White means clean, open, airy and inviting. Okay some of the older consoles were also white, see the Dreamcast, but colour isn’t the only factor, have you seen the size of the Wii? Tiny, I think I could fit four Wii’s into my Xbox and maybe a remote too; in fact the remote is almost a third of its size. Small white, clean and tidy, neat and presentable, these are words a parent uses, words that appeal to those parents. As I visited friends and family, invited into their homes for a few short hours I noticed one thing in nearly every household, a PlayStation or Xbox alongside a Wii. In some cases it’s all three but these are younger families the older generation of parents, aunties and uncles are where the Wii’s stand out. And then in those cases it’s usually only the Wii. I remember someone a while back telling me that statistically there was a Ps2 in every home, I never knew if it was true and never really cared because it was something I never saw. My Nan and Granddad were never hot footing it in GTA but I’ve witnessed a rather aggressive game of bowling by my elders on quite possibly the biggest high definition TV I have ever seen, show offs. I’ve seen Wii’s used in various ways in hospitals, schools, gyms, old people’s homes, homeless shelters, pubs and police stations! The list goes on, where ever groups gather Wii’s exist. Or at least they did. Yeah the novelty wore of after a while but the machine at its cost was worth every pound, dollar and Yen. We still have the occasional gathering of family where the Wii comes out, we play around a bit have a laugh, it adds a unique activity to the average reunion building on social activity that connects us all. It is as if Nintendo decided that one day consoles were no longer antisocial just social, don’t believe us? Here have a play on this. Microsoft and Sony entered this market but in my view since the Wii+, Move and Kinect just didn’t cut the mustard. But even before Wii+ the experience was not the same, it is as if the spirit of the fun that came from those games echoed through the Wii itself and is none replicable. The charm was in the Wii not the Ps3 or Xbox 360, perhaps this was its downfall in the ‘gamer’ market but I enjoy adult games on the Wii as much as I do the other consoles, it is just a shame there wasn’t as many titles that are as good as what’s on offer from PlayStation or Xbox.
The Wii was effectively done with in 2012, with the promise of Nintendo’s new system coming around winter time that year. But that didn’t holding it back and the console enjoyed a slight resurrection. Remember when the mighty Ps2 was at an end, yes there are great titles from that machine but from its last year can I name any without looking them up? I wish I could but the answer is no. The Wii on the other hand I can name three right away Skyward Sword, The Last Story, Xenoblade. These are all high quality AAA titles worthy of launch day, they are definers of their generation, the culmination of every related title from before, the perfection of their genre and they are coming at the end of their parent consoles life. The mature games Wii fans have been waiting for. Could they have been put back one little year to help Nintendo launch their new system? They sure could have but they were not, should they have come out sooner? Well unfortunately the answer is the same but would they have been as good? I doubt it. Will they be remembered in gaming history? I can say that for Skyward and Xenoblade I honestly think so. It is part of the philosophy of the Wii to go at its own pace which has been rounded off with the release of these very good games, not also rans to squeeze a little extra cash from a lame cow, but fully fledged gaming experiences that will be remembered and come back to. It felt as a reward to all those people who have loved and cherished their time with the Wii over the years as its life comes to an end. Will there be any more surprises as the year draws on? With the Olympics around the corner and the success of the tied in Mario games I am sure there will be at least one last flick of the wrist, in a sociably acceptable way.
You ever heard the saying standing on the shoulders of giants? Being elevated, becoming better than your forbears, carrying on what was laid before. Was the Wii standing on this giant? No it wasn’t, tried and tested technology that can be found at any arcade in the world and as far back as the original duck hunt game. The Wii however, was a whole new giant. The platform from which consoles and general gaming became accepted into the modern family; it was an opposite of type. It was the platform that brought simple, engaging and social gameplay to our households opening up relationships between gamers and non-gamers, mothers and sons, not another all-out gaming system for boys young and old with ultra-violence and high concentration precise control. Of course the Ps3 and Xbox 360 would have been successful in their own right as mass online console gaming was coming no matter what, no small thanks to the Dreamcast, but the Wii softened the market and showed Microsoft and Sony the true power of social gaming, which they in turn took successfully one step further as they stood upon the Wii’s shoulders. It made sceptical parents and suspicious partners more open to the idea of a console in the house, moved from the dark corner cupboard bedrooms and musty garages straight into our living rooms. The most prominent room of the house, like a pet dog or new born baby consoles are now part of the family. Ps3’s are multimedia systems sitting under your televisions showing you Blu-ray movies and pictures of your kids, Xbox 360’s have replaced stereos and DVD players (for those of us who don’t care for Blu-ray), both providing us quick and easy ways to contact our friends and families, access social networks and arrange supposed friendly matches of Fifa and watch television with fantastic accessibility. The Wii sits patiently in the corner waiting for the next gathering of people into your household, the next big birthday or even Christmas knowing the for now it may have been forgotten, it will be remembered in the end. The futures bright for the next generation to build upon the successes and giant strides taken by this magnificent console generation we have had, and as the stars of the Wii, Ps3 and Xbox 360 head into maturity, I find myself thinking as I see the two brighter stars still blazing away and as the forgotten star of the Wii defiantly shines on into its dying days… I’ll miss the Wii the most.